Major Mark Butner, commander of the squadron, welcomed friends and family members in attendance, noting that the squadron itself is like an extended family. He also welcomed the return of Bill Vardiman who had come out of retirement in the last year to rejoin the squadron. Butner also pointed out that Col. Erica Williams, commander of the Missouri Wing, had once been a cadet in the Saline County squadron.
Butner told the cadets that in addition to Williams, the squadron has a number of success stories.
"I have watched a long line of cadets go on to great things," he said. "They once sat where you are."
Several former cadets have gone on to have careers in the military, including Capt. Patrick Chevalier, who was present for the event. Butner told the cadets that his own son Damean, a member of the squadron since junior high, had just graduated from Army basic training.
At his graduation ceremony, Damean had told his father how much his time in Civil Air Patrol had prepared him for his time in training.
Butner said the commanding general of the base where Damean trained had noted that the men and women graduating basic were volunteers. He said the same is true of the young people who are part of Civil Air Patrol.
"They're volunteering to do this," Butner said. "That doesn't happen very much these days."
First Lt. Sean Cott, deputy commander of cadets, also spoke during the event. He said that a big change has been under way this year in that Civil Air Patrol is moving toward having cadet achievement testing done online. That means in order to move up through the organization's ranks, the teens are required to do the work on a computer.
"It's getting them more hands-on training with computers, which is a good thing for their future," he said.
Cott then recognized Cadet Jessica Evans who had been promoted to Cadet Technical Sergeant.
Following the cadet promotion, First Lt. Chris Post, squadron safety and public affairs officer, was promoted to captain.
The event concluded with remarks and presentations by Williams. Williams said as commander of the entire Missouri wing, she can't play favorites between the various squadrons, but she always considers Saline County her "home" squadron.
She had been a cadet at the time Vardiman was a member. She said it had taken some time to get the paperwork to go through, but she was pleased to restore him to his former rank of lieutenant colonel. She then presented him the appropriate rank markings for his uniform.
Next, Williams presented a lifetime achievement award to Jim Chevalier of Marshall.
Chevalier, who oversees ground transportation throughout the wing, is a former commander of the Saline County Squadron.
In closing, Williams told the cadets that she and Patrick Chevalier had once been very much like them and she was sure they could reach similar heights.
"If we can do it, I have no doubt you will do great things," she said. "This is only the beginning."